“And there I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as on the days of her youth, at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”
It has been quite full the last couple of weeks! I am thankful that I have carved out time to write a few simple words as we close out this month of April. Even in its soft beat, my heart delivers gladness based on my ever-increasing knowledge of God. And at this moment I repeat silently in my head:
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies who seek Him with their whole heart.”
Psalm 119 has always been one of great comfort for me. As the longest psalm and chapter of the Bible, it is an acrostic ode of supreme recognition and thankfulness to God. Because of the twenty-two mind-bending stanzas offering eight verses, some may say psalm 119 needs to be clarified. This needed clarification is because in specific areas it can be difficult to understand. But then, there are those I know who have memorized the complete psalm! And my question then is-do you really know what it is saying?
I am fascinated with this psalm. One question, I often ask is why was the use of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, chosen in sequence to begin each stanza? Of course, I’m aware that my question comes in the form of a truism, which according to Fee and Stuart (2014), asserts that: What God wants us to know has been communicated to us; what God has not told us may still hold our interest, but our uncertainty at these points should not make us dogmatic (pg. 72).
The inclination to lay down principles as indisputably true is predominant in many teachings today. The thought is usually if a verse is not understood, perhaps creating a belief system or doctrine so that people will understand its meaning, is the only answer. And, because this has been the way things have transpired from the beginning of such belief systems, statements and/or creations added to the closed canon of God are never questioned. Those who adhere to dogmatic approaches have been known to infer egotism, arrogance or are biased in proclaiming their ideas or theories, notably even when these same ideas and theories are unverifiable or unexamined.
Bear with me here; I know I’ve just briefly put on the researcher cap, but occasionally I’ll explore and may read a simple verse of the Bible many times to decipher its true meaning. In following the closed canon, I take to heart to know and understand 2 Timothy 4 vv. 3-4.
These verses say:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
And even before this, Paul encouraged Timothy to preach the word (2 Timothy 4 v. 2). The word is Scripture, noted in 2 Timothy 3 vv. 16-17.
Reader, my question to you is: Do you accept the complete Word of God as enough to sustain you and guide you on your path to know Him more? Or are you seeking something other than this? Paul warned Timothy that instead of listening to an Orthodox preacher as he, driven by the idea of only satisfying the self, there would be people who seek out what is far beyond what has been experienced and written. As Paul warned Timothy, he warns us!
In Joshua 7 vv. 25-26, we learn about the Valley of Achor. A horrific lesson to revisit, but also one of good hope when we read Hosea 2 v. 15. What happened to Achan is a clear sign of probable unfaithfulness. But when intimacy with the Lord is rebuilt, there is hope for the future. The door of hope swings wide open for us to enter. Our past mistakes are then erased, and we are restored with great blessings. Intimacy comes only through God’s Word.
“Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me (Isaiah 65 v. 10).”
Do you hear God’s grace in His word and experience it in your lives? Let’s continue to put our faith in God, thank His son Christ Jesus, and allow Holy Spirit to guide us. Dogmatic approaches represent needless ‘works’. Salvation is God’s work alone!
Paul reminds us:
“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11 v. 6)
Growing together, from the inside and out!
Fee, G. D & Stuart, D. (2014). How to read the Bible for all its worth. Zondervan (pg. 72).
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserve